Haiti reconstruction panel announces $78M project to rebuild quake-damaged neighborhoods

Dieu Nalio Chery / Associated Press ) - Former U.S. President and UN special envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton, left, and Haiti’s President Michel Martelly speak before a press conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011.

AP:PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The Haiti reconstruction panel co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton announced a major new project Wednesday to rebuild part of the capital damaged by last year’s earthquake.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission said it plans to spend $78 million to revitalize 16 neighborhoods and remove roughly 30,000 people from six major settlement camps that formed after the January 2010 disaster.

The commission said the project aims to move the 5,239 families living in six particularly vulnerable camps back into the 16 Port-au-Prince neighborhoods where most of them lived before the quake.

“This kind of collaboration will generate the lasting change, the permanent housing solutions that Haitians are depending on,” Clinton said in a speech after the commission’s announcement.

He said the project would generate about 4,500 jobs.

The International Organization for Migration estimates about 630,000 Haitians are still without homes.

Haitian President Michel Martelly and his staff identified encampments that they found are most in need of help before presenting the project to the recovery commission board, which approved it this week.

“This is a big day for the Haitian people,” Martelly said. “Removing the people from under the tents is urgent.”

Much of the money for the relocation project will come from the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, set up by donor nations, and the United Nations.

Clement Belizaire, coordinator of the project for Martelly’s administration, declined to disclose the names of the chosen encampments out of fear that other displaced Haitians desperate for a home would flock to those camps.

Martelly also urged international donors who pledged a total of $5.5 billion last year to support Haiti’s recovery efforts to fulfill all their pledges quickly.

“I want to take this moment to remind the international community to fulfill the promises they made. We need a lot of money,” Martelly told reporters.

Earlier Wednesday, Clinton held a closed-door meeting with the board of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. He also met with members of Haiti’s Parliament, which has rejected Martelly’s first two picks for prime minister.


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